West coast of Cumbria celebrated through digital art and photography festival


West Coast Photo Festival. Photo: Phoebe Kiely

Submitted by Helen Bartosinski

The second chapter of a digital art and photography festival to explore and celebrate the West Coast of Cumbria and beyond is about to be launched.

Filled with world-class photography exhibitions, outdoor installations, family-friendly creative workshops and artist film screenings, the second chapter of the West Coast Photo Festival 2021, hosted by Signal Film and Media, will take place from October 7 to November 7.

Following on from the success of the summer chapter in June; showcasing an all-digital photography festival, the West Coast Photo Festival returns for its next and final iteration, spread across multiple venues including the Florence Arts Center in Egremont, Station Docks on the Cumbrian Railways, Barrow Market and The Rum Story in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

Gallery exhibits and live events in the gallery spaces at Cooke Studios, Barrow-in-Furness include:

  • A striking exhibition bringing together for the first time the newly commissioned work of two acclaimed British social documentary photographers, Vanessa Winship and Phoebe Kiely.
  • Cumbrian Focus: An exhibition of new work from local and emerging photographers featuring Marie Smith, Katrin Joost, John Darwell, Mario Popham, Henry Iddon and Philip Green celebrating the people and places of this unique coastline.
  • Video work by Cumbrian artists Danielle Chappell Aspinwall and Zoe Forster who have been mentored by Signal Film and Media throughout the lockdown.
  • A beautiful exhibition of works of art made by young people from Copeland and Barrow-in-Furness schools. Made during outdoor workshops on the beach with environmental artists Tim Pugh and Di McGhee.
West Coast Photo Festival. Photo: Vanessa Winship

Outdoor installations and exhibits at venues on the west coast of Cumbria:

  • The Caravan Gallery will create its Barrow Pride of Place project at Barrow Market by encouraging visitors to get involved by sharing stories and participating in workshops, transforming a market stall into an exhibition space and watching it grow during the opening weekend in October.
  • Large-scale outdoor photo installations from the Elements Open Call Competition at several stations along the West Coast Railroad.
  • On the site of a historic iron ore mine, the Florence Arts Center in Egremont will host exhibitions celebrating photographic talent from across Cumbria’s west coast. Showcasing an outdoor display of the top 5 Elements Open Call competition winners and artwork by youth from county schools at workshops in spring 2021 with artists Tim Pugh and Di McGhee.
  • Explore decades of photographs of the West Coast and beyond in the Sankey Photographic Archives on display at the “Seeing the North with Sankey” exhibit at the Dock Museum in Barrow starting October 15.

Creative workshops, engaging discussions and fun family events to get everyone involved:

  • Sign up for photography workshops at The Rum Story in Whitehaven run by famous West Coast artists and photographers such as Philip Green.
  • Learn from the critically acclaimed artists exhibiting at Cooke’s Studio in Barrow-in-Furness during opening weekend with a program of lectures, panel discussions, and masterclasses.
  • Take part in creative walk-in family-friendly activities on Saturday, October 9 and during the mid-term October break with local artists at Cooke Studios.
  • Join us on the festival’s closing weekend for our closing event including film screenings at the Florence Arts Center on November 6th.

Loren Slater, Co-Director of Signal Film and Media, said: “After the inevitable postponements, we now look forward to finally sharing all the brilliant work that has been created.

“The exhibits reveal and explore the unique identity and character of this fantastic and often overlooked part of the UK, and this county-wide festival will provide a rare opportunity to see world-class exhibits and exciting new commissions. .

“We hope this will be something welcome, uplifting and inspiring in what has been a turbulent and disturbing time.”

John Baker, Managing Director of Whitehaven Harbor Commissioners, said: “Whitehaven Harbor was delighted to host two stunning installations as part of the first chapter of the West Coast Photo Festival in our Hub area. They were a real point of reference and a point of discussion for the thousands of visitors. who walked in the harbor and marina every week and the engagement was fabulous to see.

“On the back of these difficult times for everyone, he demonstrated that art and creativity are a force to improve the general well-being in the community, that it encourages discussion and engagement and that it attracts people to the city and inspires them to bring in to experience the stunning landscapes, monuments and communities that surround us in Whitehaven and along the West Coast. “

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